2014-09-30

VMworld - from a Religious Jewish Orthodox Perspective

I am sure you have all been reading the numerous amount of posts recapping VMworld and their experiences. My RSS feed has been overflowing and it has taken a while to get through it all. This will not be my only VMworld post, but one with which I would like give you all my personal perspective of how I went through VMworld, but not from a technical perspective, but from a personal one just before we start with VMworld 2014 Europe.

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Forgive me if this has nothing to do with technology, virtualization or cloud, but as you are all aware, religion is a substantial part of my life, and as a result this has an effect on practically everything I do, including attending technical conferences.

Travel


Shabbat – or as you might know it as the Sabbath. Shabbat is typically from sunset on Friday afternoon until when 3 stars are visible in the night sky on Saturday evening. During that period – for me this is a day of rest. I will not go into every single detail of what the laws are but basically this means:
  • no travelling
    • not by car,
    • not by bicycle
    • no public transport
    • not by boat, plane, train, air balloon or space ship for that matter
There are even certain restrictions on how far you can actually walk on Shabbat.

Because of these restrictions, my travel to and from a remote location has to be either before Shabbat or after Shabbat finishes. In the case of VMworld, my travel to San Francisco could not commence before Saturday night, and therefore I would arrive on Sunday morning.

The same with travel back, if a conference finishes late in the week and if there is any chance of my flight back not arriving back in time for me to get home before Shabbat, then I will delay my flights until the following Sunday.

I do my research and see if there is a Jewish community in the city I am visiting, and if there is a synagogue close to the location I will be staying, if not – I will probably move to another hotel towards the weekend closer to the Jewish community.

Food

Kosher dietary laws are very specific, and again I will not go into the specifics but for me it boils down to the following.

I do not eat food that has not been prepared under local rabbinical supervision – either by a caterer, or restaurant, or by a company that has their food under local rabbinical supervision, or at a home prepared by another orthodox religious family, which I can rely on.

I will not eat at any establishment in the city where I am, usually there are a number of places that do adhere to these laws. I usually do my research before hand and if there are any Kosher restaurants in the vicinity of my destination.

If not, (and this does happen) I will have to will bring food with me from home, living on “rations for my duration” something I have done before, when I visited India a while back.

Drinks are a little bit easier, water is fine everywhere – as long as it does not have additional flavoring. Coke, Sprite, all the big brand names are fine, but alcohol is not (not that I drink anyway) but still only certain alcoholic beverages are allowed, again under rabbinical supervision.

For VMworld, this was pretty easy, there was one Kosher restaurant (yes, only one) in San Francisco where I had dinner every evening, and the VMworld event team organized special Kosher meals for all those who requested this in advance (most big conferences are willing to cater with special Kosher food, if it is available locally. Lucky me).

Shabbat

I try as much as possible, not to be out of Israel for Shabbat, but unfortunately that does not always work. I prefer to be in the vicinity of a local Jewish community, but then again, there is not always a community everywhere in the world (almost everywhere, but not always). The wonderful thing is that people are usually very welcoming and hospitable and are willing to welcome a fellow Jewish traveller – the same as I do at home for those in need of a place for Shabbat. Usually you know someone who knows someone else who will be able to help you out.

In the event of me not being able to be in the vicinity of a Jewish community, I need to stay at a the hotel, which is my last preference, because of all the electronics and technology, starting with electronic keys, light sensors and so forth, this becomes a challenge and sometimes a very hard one. There are workarounds that for some of the problems, for example -  climbing 21 flights of stairs instead of using the elevator is no fun, but doable, but a challenge nonetheless.

I do not do sight seeing, shopping, or anything much else on Shabbat, it is a day of rest, so it is not really a holiday but more of a necessity to be there so I can continue on my journey the on Sunday.

I know there are limitations – some of you might feel that I might be crazy, but I would not live my life any other way. Being a observant religious Jew, has its upsides as well. There are challenges, many of them, which I face every day, but I embrace them with open arms and welcome whatever comes my way.

I hope this post was somewhat informative, provided some insight into my way of life, showed some of the considerations I have to take into account when travelling – and how I deal with them.

If you or any other Kosher, Jewish or religious traveller (or anyone else for that matter) would like some more details about what can be done to make Kosher travel easier, please feel free to reach out to me either through Twitter, or the through the contact form on my blog and I will be happy to help out if I can.

As always if you would like to leave a comment, feedback or have any questions, please feel free to do so below.

2014-09-23

AWS Summit Tel Aviv 2014

Last week I attended the AWS Tech Summit in Tel Aviv.


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The Conference is growing. 500 attendees 2 years ago, 1000 last year, 1500 attendees this year. There was an impressive Solutions Expo, with a quite a number of companies.

I enjoyed the Keynote given by Dr. Werner Vogels (VP & CTO). He is great and passionate speaker.

There was one thing that I found quite enlightening and one of the key takeaways for me from the conference. During the keynote Avi Kochva the CIO of Bank Hapoalim (one of the 3 major banks in Israel) who got up on stage and described how they are using AWS today.

He described the 3 points that the bank uses to determine when they can use a public cloud provider:

  1. Using the Cloud has better value, and it provides a better solution than what they are using in house
  2. Using the cloud is a a cheaper solution
  3. Since the CIO is criminally liable if information from the bank is compromised, therefore the security provided for the data in the cloud cannot be less that what they currently have.
He then mentioned publicly that the bank has no core banking data or information in the cloud. Yes they are dabbling in other stuff like providing a site – I assume on AWS – that will allow access to completely anonymized data for developing mobile apps, but I am not sure that much else is there.
This was one of my key takeaways from the conference


Evidently they do not feel that AWS is as secure as their datacenters today. Food for thought.

There a number of sessions on optimizing your workloads in AWS that I attended, and besides the pointers that were given in the sessions I came to the realization that there are so many different features you can use in AWS that it actually can make your head spin. And almost always there is a way to save money – but it not the most trivial solution, and you will not always have the correct person to point in that direction.

A company by the name of Hopon won the startup competition. A nice startup in Israel – that provides a solution for ticketing for public transport.

All in all it was a very interesting day, good always to see the other side of the Cloud, understand where things are currently moving and where other solutions still have to go.

All the slide decks from the summit can be found here.